Fitness

10 Heart-Opening Yoga Poses That Feel So Good

Expand that chest and stretch those shoulders.

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Heart-opening yoga poses stretch the muscles around your heart, says yoga instructor Liz Wexler. These include back extensions and other moves that expand your chest and push your shoulders back for a calming, upper body stretch.

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Heart-opening poses can be done every day as needed, says Wexler, especially when you want to release tight chest muscles for better posture. Because they focus on “opening” your heart, these moves also promote feelings of gratitude, calm, and kindness. Here are 10 poses to try.

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Mountain Pose

Heart-opening poses like this are said to stimulate and balance the heart chakra, says yoga teacher Barrie Risman.

- Stand tall.

- Clasp your hands behind your back.

- Lift and open your chest.

- Push sternum forward.

- Take a few deep breaths.

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Supported Corpse Pose

Ground yourself in this restorative pose Risman recommends for opening your heart.

- Lie back over blanket.

- Place blanket under head so forehead is above chin.

- Keep neck long.

- Rest hands on chest.

- Take a few breaths.

- Roll to side, press up to sit.

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Bow Pose

This move leads with your heart by stretching your chest, Wexler says.

- Lie on stomach, forehead to mat.

- Kick heels to glutes.

- Reach for tops of feet.

- Keep big toes close together.

- Inhale, lift chest up.

- Rock weight towards navel.

- Stay for 3 to 6 inhales.

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Upward Facing Dog

Yoga instructor Kat Sand, Ph.D. points to this expansive move for beginners.

- Begin on stomach, hands under shoulders, tops of feet down.

- Push into palms to lift chest.

- Press feet, thighs into mat.

- Pull shoulder blades together.

- Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

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Camel Pose

Yoga teacher Brandt Passalacqua likes this move to improve posture.

- Kneel on mat, knees hip-width apart.

- Lift chest, reach hands back to feet.

- Engage core.

- Look up at ceiling.

- Drop shoulders.

- Push into heels with hands, expand rib cage.

- Hold 30 seconds.

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Cobra Pose

Yoga teacher Nancy Gerstein says this pose loosens chest muscles so you can breathe more openly.

- Lie on your stomach.

- Place palms at mid-chest.

- Inhale, lift upper body up.

- Press pelvis into floor.

- Hold for 5 breaths.

- Lower down, rest with head to one side.

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Fish Pose

YogaSix instructor Kelly Clifton Turner recommends this relaxing pose.

- Lie on your back, knees bent.

- Arch your back.

- Drop the crown of head towards ground.

- Reach hands towards hips.

- Extend legs long.

- Take a few breaths.

- Engage forearms, abs to roll up.

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Sphinx Pose

Calm anxiety and open your heart in this pose, says yoga instructor Jordan Borkan.

- Lie on stomach.

- Forearms and palms press into mat in front of you.

- Roll shoulders back.

- Relax head and neck.

- Press into forearms to expand chest.

- Hold for 3 minutes.

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Bridge Pose

Passalacqua suggests this back extension to stretch your chest.

- Lie on your back.

- Bend your knees, feet hip-width apart.

- Move heels close to butt.

- Press into feet to lift hips.

- Clasp hands under butt.

- Breathe as you hold for 30 seconds.

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Reclined Butterly

Yoga teacher Amy Sullivan loves doing this pose after a long day.

- Lie on your back.

- Keep spine neutral.

- Put soles of feet together.

- Allow knees to fall apart.

- Place one hand on belly, one on heart.

- Close your eyes, take 5 to 15 breaths.